Seattle's $15 Wage Plan Proves Power of Radical Pressure
By Jon Queally / commondreams.org
May 7, 2014

This is a 'testament to how working people can push back against the status quo of poverty, inequality, and injustice'
 

'We made this progress possible... but it is neither strong enough nor fast enough.'

 That's the summarized reaction by progressive activists in Seattle to a proposal by the city's mayor, Ed Murray, presented to the city council this week that calls for a phased-in minimum wage hike to $15 an hour over four years.

Though the $15 minimum wage would make Seattle's one of the highest in the country, Kshama Sawant, the outspoken member of the Socialist Alternative party on the City Council and the de facto leader of the city's $15Now coalition, said she could not support Murray's plan as written because of its numerous complexities, loopholes, and a slow implementation.

That a proposal to raise the wage this much is even supported by the mayor's office and business interests in the city, said Sawant, "is a testament to how working people can push back against the status quo of poverty, inequality, and injustice."

Howeve, while saying the mayor's proposal was the direct "result of the pressure" from those pushing from below and should be welcomed for that reason, Sawant said that the "unfortunate" reality is that the mayor's plan "also reflects the attempt of business to water down what the working people of Seattle" have consistently said they want.

"While business has lost the public battle on [having a $15 wage]," she continued, "they were given a seat at the table to pursue their wish list, while low-wage workers were left out."

On Murray's plan, The New York Times reports:

Mr. Murray, a Democrat and former state senator, formed his special committee on income inequality this year — headed by a labor union leader and a business executive — and gave them three months to find common ground. While running for mayor last fall, he, like Ms. Sawant, pledged to support a $15 minimum wage.

The result, in an agreement reached late Wednesday, with 21 of the 24 members supporting the plan, he said, was a two-tiered minimum-wage structure. Employers with more than 500 workers — no matter where those workers are around the nation — would move on a faster track toward $15 than smaller employers. Tips and employer-paid health care benefits also would be factored in getting to the $15 level for smaller companies, at least in the earlier years of the plan.

The result is a disparity, at least in the rate of pay increases, if not the final destination: Some workers would get to $15 an hour as early as 2017, with a cost-of-living adjustment after that tied to the Consumer Price Index, while other workers, at smaller companies, would not see $15 until 2021. Washington already has the highest statewide minimum wage in the nation, at $9.32.

It is all those caveats and complexities, say Sawant, which make the deal untenable for those living in poverty who should not be forced to wait for one more day, let alone many years, for increased pay.

"Every year of phase-in is another year that a worker has to live in poverty," she said. "So we have to keep fighting. We will keep building the pressure from below."

Detailing her objections to four specific issues— the 'four year phase-in for big business'; an '11 year delay' for small business; a 'tip credit' for waitpersons and others; and 'health care deductions'—Sawant was adamant, declaring:

I don’t support phasing-in for big business. McDonalds and Starbucks have no justification for keeping their workers in poverty for a day longer.

For workers in Seattle, 11 years is a very long time to wait for a decent wage. Every year of a phase-in is another year of poverty for workers.

I do not support tip credit. Tip credit has proven itself to be a cause of poverty for tipped workers in the 43 states in which it exists. It also overturns the 1988 democratic majority vote by Washington State workers.

I do not see why businesses should get a healthcare credit. Business executives don’t have to make a choice between a decent wage and health care for their families. Why should workers have to make this false choice? Workers make this city run, and they deserve wages, tips, and healthcare.

The proposal for a $15 wage supported by Sawant and the $15Now coalition, on the other hand, has:

  • no phase-in for big business. Big business had to pay 15 now
  • a much shorter, 3 year phase-in for small businesses and nonprofits
  • no tip credit or healthcare credit

Sawant says her proposal deserves a vote in the City Council and she has vowed to continue the fight to give the people of Seattle the wage measure they have asked for and deserve by collecting signatures to put her more aggressive proposal on the city ballot in November.

"This is a historic moment to recognize the power of grassroots organizing," Sawant declared. "It is a call to action."

____________________________

0.0 ·
0
Trending Today
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 14,695 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Trump Is a Symptom of a Sickness That Is Raging All Across The World
1 min · 12,282 views today · This is why we are here. And this is what we need to remember. 
What Is My Activism Really About? to Love, Serve and Remember
Tim Hjersted · 5,391 views today · I have made a promise to this world that I will carry with me to my last days. It is my vow to lessen the suffering of the world while I am here - it is to ensure that every...
Escape! From the Cult of Materialism (2016)
50 min · 3,846 views today · Does the philosophy of materialism work to destroy our identities, experience, and environment? Join narrator Daphne Ellis on a radical romp through the evidence and decide for...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 2,223 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Looking Forward to the Day That Nationalism Is as Reviled as Racism
Tim Hjersted · 1,784 views today · Nationalism is a form of geographical racism that makes some lives matter more than others, and explicitly justifies that logic without apology. While today, not even lying...
Why It's Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound
Bethany Webster · 1,737 views today · The issue at the core of women’s empowerment is the mother wound
Stunning Photos By Alexander Semenov Showcase The Alien Beauty Of Jellyfish
Earth Porm · 998 views today · Jellyfish appear like beautiful aliens in Alexander Semenov’s photography, calling a new attraction to a magical species of marine life. Alexander Semenov is a marine...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 706 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
Supporters 'Ecstatic' After Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning's Sentence
Nika Knight · 691 views today · Whistleblower to be released from military prison in May
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 590 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves
Yasha Levine · 559 views today · “…everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.” —Arthur Young; 1771 Our popular economic wisdom says that...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 553 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
Coping With Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the White House
N Ziehl · 366 views today · I want to talk a little about narcissistic personality disorder. I’ve unfortunately had a great deal of experience with it, and I’m feeling badly for those of you who are...
Positive Thinking in a Dark Age: A Guide to Gracefully Losing Faith in a Collapsing Dominant Culture
Jim Tull · 362 views today · I recall a Buddhist parable involving a stick that appears from a distance to be a snake, causing fear to rise in the perceiver. As the perception shifts upon closer...
10 Female Revolutionaries That You Probably Didn't Learn About In History class
Kathleen Harris · 288 views today · We all know male revolutionaries like Che Guevara, but history often tends to gloss over the contributions of female revolutionaries that have sacrificed their time, efforts...
Watch How Europeans Carved Up African Land They Never Owned
56 min · 286 views today · Watch how Europeans gave away African land they never owned, then expressed anger when Africans resisted. The film is called Africa: A Voyage of Discovery, Episode 6: The...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 262 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
90 Inspiring and Visionary Films That Will Change How You See the World in Profound Ways
Tim Hjersted · 248 views today · The world today is in crisis. Everybody knows that. But what is driving this crisis? It's a story, a story that is destroying the world. It's a story about our relationship to...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 248 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Seattle's $15 Wage Plan Proves Power of Radical Pressure